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County's cattle slaughter tally

6 March 2008 - BBC News

Nearly a third of all cattle slaughtered in England over the past three years because of TB were from Devon, the government has confirmed. Totnes MP Anthony Steen had asked farm and environment department Defra to reveal the statistics. Environment Secretary Hilary Benn's answers showed Devon's tally for infected cattle was just below 30% of the total across the country. Yet statistics show Devon is home to just 10% of the cattle in England.

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Defra has admitted tuberculosis in cattle is one of its biggest problems.

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But while farmers may be in favour of a cull, a government consultation of more than 47,000 people suggested more than 95% of people opposed it.

Last month, Mr Benn said any cull decision would be based on the science, impact of the proposed measures, the practicalities and its "public acceptability". He cited a 10-year study by the Independent Scientific Group on bovine TB which concluded a cull could not "meaningfully contribute" to the control of the disease in cattle.

Mr Benn added he would await a report by the Environment Food and Rural Affairs select committee before making a decision.

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